Lekota claims Ramaphosa was rewarded by apartheid's special branch

Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota (File, Cornel van Heerden, Gallo Images, Netwerk24)
Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota (File, Cornel van Heerden, Gallo Images, Netwerk24)

Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota accused President Cyril Ramaphosa of being rewarded by the apartheid government's notorious special branch.

Speaking in the debate on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Wednesday, Lekota recalled how he was incarcerated in the 1970s for his political activism. 

He said Ramaphosa wrote to the Special Branch and said that they – Lekota and his cohorts – put communist ideas in his head. Ramaphosa was then rewarded for this.

The president did not react as he spoke.

Lekota added that he decided to go down with his people. 

"I will stay with the people," he said, calmly. "I'm grateful you're a billionaire. Keep your billions."

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi diverted from his speech and said that when he was the chairperson of the SRC of the University of Natal in the early 1980s, there were rumours that their comrade Ben Lango sold out.

When Lekota was released from Robben Island, they bought a ticket for him to come and address them to confirm if they were sold out by any of their comrades. 

Lekota told them there was no such thing and it was a smear campaign by the Boers to divide. 

"You had no reason to protect one Cyril Ramaphosa," Motsoaledi said.

Motsoaledi further asked why Lekota campaigned for Ramaphosa to be elected as the secretary general of the ANC in 1991 if he was a sellout. 

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi jumped up for a point of order. 

"Honourable Lekota has a sworn statement, chief," he said to Motsoaledi. 

"Our comrades have died of such statements," Motsoaledi said.

As Lekota got to the podium, he asked if he should wait for Ramaphosa, who left the chamber briefly. Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Thandi Modise told him to continue, but he refused.

"This amnesia is amazing," Modise said. 

The EFF then said Lekota should go, and that his time was up.

When Lekota finally started, he didn't say a word of his prepared speech (which was distributed to the media).

When Modise asked him to start wrapping up, EFF leader Julius Malema stood up and asked if eight of the minutes allocated to the EFF to speak in the House could be transferred to Lekota.

Modise said this could not be done and Lekota concluded. 

When he left the podium he got a standing ovation from the EFF and some other members of opposition parties - in stark contrast to his speech in the debate on the SONA last year, when the ANC and EFF shouted him down.

Later, DA chief whip John Steenhuisen was seen chatting to Lekota and a few minutes later, as the House took a 15-minute break, Malema talked to him.

The rest of the debate mostly followed the pattern of the previous day – opposition speakers reminding Ramaphosa that he was part of the "wasted nine years" and that he should have known about Eskom's imminent collapse rather than be "shocked" and "angered" about it. There were also calls for the president to act against the corrupt in the ANC benches.

ANC speakers congratulated Ramaphosa on his SONA and talked about what the party had achieved in the government over the past 25 years.

FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald and DA MP Thandeka Mbabama said land expropriation without compensation would have dire effects for the economy.

DA MP Jacques Julius called for the strengthening of border controls and, like US president Donald Trump, scapegoated immigrants for crime and drug trafficking. 

In a much more measured speech compared to her contribution during last year's SONA debate, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu noted the global rise of right-wing politics, fueled by a rejection of immigrants.

During their contributions on Tuesday, IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi and UDM leader Bantu Holomisa both decried the persistence of pit latrines at schools.

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said about 3 000 schools which have pit latrines have one thing in common: they can be found in areas that were previously homelands.

Both Buthelezi and Holomisa served as leaders of former homelands. 

Most speakers also plugged their parties for the upcoming elections.

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